Community Helps Improve High School Graduation Rates - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Community Helps Improve High School Graduation Rates

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BOZEMAN - The state of Montana is working diligently to improve high school graduation rates and decrease the drop-out rates.

On Tuesday, 150 school, student, communities and business leaders met in Bozeman to discuss how to they can improve Montana's high school graduation rates.

The Graduation Matters program in Montana began in 2009. The program encourages people in the community to help high school students succeed.

"We now have 33 communities that are graduation matters communities, which means 70% of students in the state are attending a school where there is a graduation matters initiative going on in their town," said Denise Juneau, Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Juneau said the program is working.

"The state graduation rate went from about 81 to 84%, our graduation rate and our drop-out rate has decreased by an entire percentage point," said Juneau.

Tanya Tucker works for America's Promise Alliance, a nation wide organization for improving the lives of children and youth. She said Montana's graduation matters program is really making a difference.

"Montana is upon the top 16 states in the country, so they don't have as far to go as some of the other states," said Tucker.

America's Promise Alliance hopes to get the national high school graduation up to 90% by 2020.

"The nation's high school graduation rate is 78.2%, which is up over the last couple years," said Tucker. "At this pace, we should be able to make the 90% goal by 2020.

She said when a student drops out of high school it affects the local economy.

"It really is all of our issues. Businesses have really stepped up to the plate to be mentors, tutors to provide internships and really be at the table around this issue," said Tucker.

The goal of the Graduation Matters program is to cut the drop-out rate in half by 2014.

Parents, educators and businesses are encouraged to get involved in the program by providing job opportunities or mentoring for students. If you would like to get involved in Graduation Matters, contact your local school.

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